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Nightingale’s Last Work on India and a Retrospective A long with her continued dedication to the cause of nursing, India remained the central occupation of Nightingale’s later years. She wrote to Rosalind Nash in 1888: ‘‘I think of your future career with more interest than almost anything else, except India and the nurses.’’1 Her official biographer, E.T. Cook, described how ‘‘the passion of her later life was the redress of Indian sufferings and grievances, and during the years 1874-79 and for many years afterwards, she did an enormous amount of work to that end.’’2 She planned to write a substantial work on India, but unfortunately ‘‘the book which she designed as a permanent contribution to the Indian question was never completed in her lifetime’’ (2:275). It is interesting to note here how much Nightingale’s early Crimean War contacts played a role in the India work. Lord Napier and Ettrick, governor of Madras, had met Nightingale the day of her arrival at Scutari —he was then a diplomat at the Constantinople Embassy. He later recounted to her that he remembered Scutari and was ‘‘one of the few original faithful left.’’ Cook observed that Napier indeed carried a nursing measure through (in Madras) when John Lawrence was ‘‘unfaithful ’’ (2:170). Letters from Napier reporting progress on nursing and public health issues generally are warm and full. One recounts reading the beautiful account of ‘Una’ . . . driving along the melancholy shore,’’ signing himself ‘‘ever your faithful, grateful and devoted servant, Napier.’’3 Nightingale later sent him a copy of her Introductory Notes on Lyingin Institutions, with a dedication: To His Excellency the Lord Napier, Madras, this little book, though on a most unsavoury subject, yet one which, entering into His Excellency’s plans for the good of those under his enlightened rule, 1 See Society and Politics (5:197). 2 Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale 2:273. 3 Letter 3 September [1868], Add Mss 45779 f222. / 879 is not foreign to his thoughts—is offered by Florence Nightingale. London 10 October 1871.4 Nightingale kept in touch with people after they left their posts in India or otherwise retired. Letters, greetings, useful information and books continued to go back and forth. For example, in 1887 she had occasion to thank Sir George Campbell for his remembrance of her, for ‘‘your admirable little book for the Cobden Club,’’ British Empire, which she read ‘‘with the utmost interest’’ and had given away ‘‘to edify others.’’ As well as thanking him for his kind present she said that she regretted missing ‘‘Mr Mackenzie when he was in England, as he is the person who could, I suppose, tell me more than anyone else of the working of the Bengal Tenancy Act.’’5 At various points of her career Nightingale sketched retrospectives of her work that show her awareness of having been somehow guided from on high and of having been blessed with outstanding companions on her path. She confessed to having sometimes felt quite ‘‘stranded,’’ especially ‘‘when Sidney Herbert, the war minister, with whom I had worked five years in the War Office, died; when Sir John Lawrence, the Indian viceroy, left India; and many other times when the future fell across my life like a great black wall.’’6 The three (undated) documents that appear next summarize how Nightingale evaluated her own work, including what good England had done in India and what it had failed to do. The first, from the early 1880s, is a draft article, then entitled ‘‘The Ryots of Bengal, Their Condition and Prospects.’’ It contains retrospective passages in which Nightingale tried critically to assess British past actions in India and her place in them. Quotations from experts are interspersed with her own comments. The second document, although written in the third person, is hers (certainly in her hand), presumably an overview provided for some now-unknown purpose. The third is a charming, very personal document, reflecting on her work from earliest days, with succinct observations on the various viceroys with whom she dealt. 4 Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale 2:171. 5 Letter 11 June 1887, British Library, Asia, African and Pacific Collection Mss Eur E 349/12. 6 Letter to Angelique Lucille Pringle 30 September 1876, Edinburgh University , Pringle Letters 39. 880 / Florence Nightingale on Social Change in India Source: From a rough hand-written draft article and a typed copy of a draft article , Add Mss 45835 ff10-20...


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